More or less three years ago, long before I started this blog, I decided to start rating books. For that purpose, I created an Excel document to keep track of both the books that I had read and what I thought about the books I was to read. I have recently realised that I haven’t considered many books as five-stars reads. So, I started to muse on why that was and on what I expect from a “perfect” book, a concept that is not universal and is connected to readers’ expectations.
First, I love books that get me completely immersed in the story and that I can’t stop thinking about. I recognise such a book when I start reflecting on it while I’m not reading, but doing my daily routines or am at work. This is the type of books that get me emotionally attached, but does so in a way that isn’t cheesy. A five-star book, for me, is not one that tries too hard to make the readers cry, but one that manages to get them attached to the characters and the plot in a way that we can almost feel those are real.
I also expect the characters to be complex, and not only either truly perfect or truly evil. People are made of many layers, which are a product of their own experiences and expectations, and I expect fictional characters to reflect that. Even the most unlikeable of characters or the antagonists cannot be purely and totally malicious. I love it when character’s personalities are gradually revealed by their actions and when they face unexpected situations that put them to the test.
Another thing that I also really like is when books keep me on the edge of my seat. I enjoy being surprised by an interesting, intriguing and complex plot. A griping plot doesn’t have to be action packed, but has to have a wow factor that either positively surprises or shocks the reader.
Last but not least, a book is a five-star read when it is sprinkled with such beautiful language that makes me wonder how an author can be such a genius when mixing words together in order to convey a story or idea. By this I don’t mean that my favourite books are overly descriptive. On the contrary, I prefer a book in which the plot is the main allure, but it is complemented with moments of genius language-wise.
I am quite greedy in relation to what I expect from a five-star book. Finding a book that fits all the mentioned requirements is definitely not easy. So, I tend to rate more books with four stars rather than five, as the latest are basically books that I can’t name one aspect that I didn’t enjoy.
What makes a five-star book for you? Tell me in the comments!